Picture of a campfire at night.Comfort is one of those words I have trouble defining to others, but it has a clear meaning to me. Expressing that meaning is the part I have trouble with. Knowing what it means is as simple as home-baked bread to me. Home-baked bread is comfort in itself, and just one of the many things I identify with comfort. The aroma of home-baked bread brings forth memories of home and Mom and so many things I associate with comfort.

Returning home is another thing. Being back at my own place, with my wonderful wife is one of the most comforting things I know. Nothing can surpass that. Even when we are in different rooms, just knowing she is there with me is the ultimate comfort. Lately she's been home a lot more than usual during the day and I've grown very comfortable with that. I'm going to be uncomfortable for quite some time when her home time ends and she is not here all day.

There is one comfort that surpasses all efforts to define. It comes in a special place. It starts with gathering all the parts, assembling them perfect order. Arranging the pieces, getting them just so. Usually the correct parts are easy to find, but sometimes not. Sometimes you have to hunt a bit harder, almost like a treasure hunt to find just the right parts.

After the assembly is complete, there is comfort in knowing the next step will be a success, just because I've taken the time to do it right, to get all the right parts and put them in the right order.

The wooden strike-anywhere match is struck on a stone and the tinder lit. Flames lick the kindling and grow as they engulf the tinder. At this moment, there is but a wisp of smoke and I could hold the fire in my hand for a moment if I wanted to. I have on occasion, to nurse it into being, a fullness and completeness that only a softly added breath of air could bring. Then it is placed into the assembly and the kindling catches.

Flames climb swiftly, like spiders dashing to the top edges of their webs. They lick and singe the delicate pieces of kindling until the pieces catch fire.

Carefully now, for the assembly is still very delicate and fragile, larger pieces of kindling are added. They pop and crackle as they catch fire--pockets of sap and oils explode into steam when heated and burst through the wood.

The fire climbs steadily up the still growing assembly and the smoke grows thick enough to sting my eyes and fill my nose with its heavenly, comforting scent. I can relax just a little now, and sit back on my heels. The fire is success and I begin adding fuel. Larger branches and sticks, set against a rock and stomped on to break.

Today my fire is a tepee and I add fuel to the outside, leaning each piece against the structure. The tinder is gone now, in its place lie hot coals born of kindling that is nearly gone, turned to ash so quickly. The sticks are as thick as my arm now and the fire is hot. I scoot back a little and watch as the fire continues to grow.

Smoke blows into my face and I squint against it. The assembly is big enough to support real logs and I add four, one for north, one for south, then east and west. Pieces laid carefully in opposition to give each other support and not rely on the underlying structure which will soon be gone and when it is, the fire collapses into a jumble of hot coals, half-burnt branches, and four pieces of long-burning fuel.

Off the ground, my knees creak as I rise and take a seat on the old log bench I've been sitting on for many years. I inhale smoke and revel the sharp sting in my eyes. On the lake, a loon calls as dusk settles into darkness and my fire is the only light save the stars and their reflection in the still water.

Comfort. My mind, far from the stresses of life, is finally at ease and I am comfortable.

How do you spell comfort? One way I spell it is c-a-m-p-f-i-r-e.

Photo Credit: Campfire courtesy of Wikimedia Commons